April 5, 2018 – SDUT – Joshua Emerson Smith reports – Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office said Wednesday it is walking back a plan to build some of the most expensive bicycle lanes in the country.
The move comes after environmental groups balked at the idea — which would have dramatically upgraded an envisioned 9-mile network of “protected” lanes downtown but also caused years of delay.
Rather than using plastic posts and parked cars to separate bicyclists from traffic as first envisioned, the mayor called last month for installing permanent concrete curbs. Inspired by a trip to Vancouver, Canada, the change would have sent the price tag soaring from $10.5 million to $25 million.
Faulconer promised more than a year ago to complete the network by 2019. The bike lanes are part of a 30-year, $62 million Downtown Mobility Plan.
It’s not unusual for such aspirational targets to get pushed back, said Greg Block, senior press secretary for the mayor. “These were preliminary cost and timeline estimates, and as with any major project it’s normal for those to change as staff gets closer to construction.”
Advocates expressed both frustration over the flip-flopping and relief that some of the lanes would likely be completed within the next two years.
“It’s a start, but we clearly have a long ways to go,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign.
“If we’re struggling to meet the goals in the Downtown Mobility Plan this tells me that we have no road map for reaching the rest of the city’s transportation goals,” she added.
The city, under its Climate Action Plan, has pledged to dramatically reduce the percentage of people who drive to work as opposed to walking, biking and riding public transit. The mayor’s office hasn’t been able to document any substantial progress to date.
Under the mobility plan, protected lanes would be installed on Pacific Highway, State Street, Sixth Avenue, Park Boulevard, Beech Street, Broadway and J Street, as well as limited sections of B and C streets.
City officials said they are now focusing on completing lanes on Sixth Avenue, J Street and Beech Street. They said those lanes were chosen because they create a connected network of bike lanes for traversing downtown.
Read the full report here.